Are you fed up with networking meetings? It’s probably because many networkers still haven’t learned how to communicate who they are, what they do,and who they serve.
I recently read an article by Dylan Kendall entitled, "5 Tips for Women Entrepreneurs I Learned From the School of Life". Dylan's tips are simple and pragmatic. They can also serve as guidelines for anyone who speaks in public. Here are her 5 tips and how they apply to public speaking:
1. Get comfortable asking for money and ask with confidence. Public speaking involves first and foremost both inner and outer confidence. If you're a professional speaker, you need to be comfortable asking for your fee.
2. Learn how to ask for advice. You need to research and seek counsel from others who know your audience. It's also about polling and interacting with the audience.
3. Don't share everything but do share strategically and embellish wisely. It's especially critical to give the listener what they need to know - not everything you know. You can lose an audience or a prospect by giving too much detail.
4. "Help a sista out" -- network with and support other women. People don't realize that networking is a presentation and your ability to present yourself and your message clearly and compellingly is an important factor in attracting clients and advocates.
5. Understand what sacrifices you can make and when you should walk away. Part of your presentation is what you are willing to do for your audience. There are some situations where you should walk away and not accept a speaking engagement. When it's the wrong topic or the wrong audience, you need to know when to say no.
There's a line from a Peter Paul and Mary song, Where Have All the Flowers Gone? that goes "When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?" Well, I want to know, "Where have all the good networkers gone?" In some instances I've started using Skype video as a first point of contact. The conversation starts out cordial. I usually ask the person to tell me about themselves and their business. It's rare that I'm asked that question first. We have a brief friendly interchange and may even discover something in common.
But then it happens. The SALES PITCH! I watched my own eyes glaze over on the Skype video as the person yammered on about the offer. I learned every component, compartment, and crevice of that product. There didn't seem to be much awareness of my state of ennui. No conversation-just a fast moving monologue like a getaway train.
Can you spell dialogue? Communication is a two way street.
Losing hope that it would finally come to an end, I used my media training skills and made a bridge statement to my business. More often than not, I'll have to use a "pattern interrupt" to bring them back into their bodies. It's as if they get lost in the verbal vomiting and forget that there's another person in the room. During one interchange I asked, "Just out of curiosity, what do you think I do?"
Bad networking pervades every venue. How many networking lunches have you attended where people drone on? The worst example was a guest who stood up and read a three page testimonial. Get me the gong! Here's the truth: less is more. People remember less the longer you speak.
Networking is not about speech-making. It's about building relationships. How can you do that if you only talk about yourself? Knowing I'm not alone in this experience, I asked my friend how she handles networking gone amuck. She confided that she now sets limits in her networking meetings. She tells people that she will meet on the condition that they don't talk about their products and services. She only wants to get to know them.
Networking, like public speaking, is a skill. And skills can be learned. Here are some tips to enhance your networking conversations and presentations:
Prepare. Go to the website and learn about the other person. Learn about their customers and alliances. They could be a source of referrals.
Be Curious. Get to know the other person as an individual and not as a business owner. There is hidden treasure you can mine when you learn about a person's life. Uncovering their interest in golf, could lead to an invitation to play and meet others at a country club.
Give to Give. Come from a place of helping without thinking of yourself. Ask how you can help them. Remember the rule of reciprocity. When you give to someone they will feel obligated to give back.
Less is More. To make your message sticky, explain what you do in a simple sound bite. I recently challenged my readers to give their elevator speech in 7 words or less. I invite you to take the challenge. Remember FDR's quote: "Be sincere, be brief, be seated."
Put in the Time. Nobody is going to refer a person they just met. Building trust takes time. Be willing to invest in relationship building. Stay in touch with phone calls, emails, and cards.
Don't Sell. Frequently, the person you meet is not going to be a direct buyer but their contacts could be a customer for you. The time to sell is when someone is interested in buying.
So where have all the good networkers gone? You'll know them when you see them. I met a couple of good networkers last week. It was a real conversation- full of questions, comments, suggestions, energy, smiles, and real interest.
You won't hit it off with everybody but when you practice these six tips you'll maximize every conversation and build a strong network.
Giving a good elevator speech is an opportunity to make you and your company shine. But how do you stand out from all the others? Good public speakers know how to use presentation techniques such as speaking in three's, repetition, and alliteration. But rhyme? Last week, I attended a BNI networking meeting. It was a large group and the introductions were limited to 20 seconds. It's always a challenge to be able to create a concise message which is also compelling and memorable. There were a number of clever taglines. A massage therapist said: "I won't rub you the wrong way." An accountant offered, "We make your life less taxing." A green real estate company announced, "Green sockets put green in your pockets."
But the most memorable person was Frank Passantino, the owner of Printech Business Systems in New York City. He stood up and in a Brooklyn "God Father"- like accent he started to rap:
I'm the rhyming Italian printer -Frankie P If you don't use me - I may Break your knee. I'm only kidding - That stuff ain't true. But some day you may end up- In a vat of hot glue. So if you don't call me - When you print the next time . I may not hurt you - But I'll kill you with rhyme
He ended with this tagline: "We'll make you a brochure your customers can't refuse."
While Kanye and Eminem don't have anything to worry about and Frankie P is not going to quit his day job, he did get attention and laughter from the group. And he made the 20 second time limit. To be a memorable speaker you need to capture attention. While most people drone on about how wonderful they are, speaking in rhyme is a fun way to toot your own horn without blowing it. As soon as you do something unexpected the audience pays attention.
What presentation techniques have you used to make an introduction more interesting?
I just got back from a networking event. Networking is a form of public speaking - it's your sales presentation. If you're like me, you experience the speakers as unclear or they're so long-winded that you tune out. In business, your elevator speech is the most important presentation. Speakers who are unclear are leaving money on the table. So I decided to challenge myself to describe what I do in 7 words or less. There's a magic to the number 7: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Seven Seals, Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, and Lucky Sevens.
Here's what I came up with: Reduce speaking anxiety and monetize your mouth.
After I sent this out to our listserve, a number of people commented about how much they loved it and how well it describes what I do as an executive speaking strategist. So, I decided to offer the same challenge to people in my network. Admittedly, it was difficult. But I was proud of some of the responses that came in. Here is a sampling:
- Cut costs without cutting corners. -Yosef Rabinowitz
- I increase people's retirement income 30%. -Ronald Stair
- Helping businesses free up cash and time. -Stacy Luft
- Catalyst for gaining, retaining, reactivating & recovering business. -Sheila Ziegler
- Engage and cultivate to sell and prosper. -Regina Bonolo
- Expos your business to qualified leads. -Mark Newart
- Help you plan for future financial security. -Jeanne McDonald
- I make real estate dreams come true. -Mona Holzman
- Protecting you and your family's financial future. -Liran Hirschkorn
- Resolving business disputes through artbitration and mediation. -David Abeshouse
- I save businesses money in merchant services. -Michael Bernstein
- Highly experienced, business-savvy, entrepreneurial lawyer. -Craig Delsack
- Protect your special needs child legally and financially. -Marie Cantone
- People Person, Talent Connector, Staffing Administrative Jobs. -Amparo Connors
- I coach men and women through divorce. -Heidi Bernstein-Krantz
- Green solutions for your pest control problems. -Andrew Luxenberg
- Optimize your organization by implementing effective policies. -Sheila Cockburn
- Branding: it's not just for cows anymore. -Regina Finkelstein
- Walk your path pain free, holistic podiatry. -Dr. Sherri Greene
What about you? What do you do in seven words or less? Let us know in the comments.
Here are a few tips for making a good impression:
1. Own the room. Stand tall and walk in with confidence. 2. Smile. You'll appear more approachable and confident. 3. Be the first to reach out. Extend your hand and give a frim handshake. A weak handshake is an immediate turn off. 4. Look directly into someone's eyes. Don't scan the room while talking to one person. 5. Don't chew gum. 6. Speak clearly and pause. Sloppy or hurried speech is perceived as negative. Eliminate slang. 7. Be fully present. Focus on the person and listen non-verbally with body language and with words. 8. Ask questions about them instead of talking about yourself. 9. Find common ground quickly.This will build instant rapport. 10. Give compliments. 11. Paraphrase. It's a form of acknowledging people. This skill makes you very attractive. It communicates you're listening. 12. Have something interesting to say. Comment on the other person's interests. 13. Be a giver. Offer a tip or an introduction to others. Give without expecting anything in return. 14. Mirror the other person. Match their speaking rate, volume level, and words. If they speak fast, quicken your pace. If they are soft-spoken, lower your volume. People like people who are most like them.
Remember: It takes 7 seconds or less to make a good first impression.You're always on stage.